is broken for new facility at Ft. Pickett
By Lt. Col. Chester
Public Affairs Officer
to right) Mr. Cord Sterling; Mr. Luchen Niemeier; Maj. Gen. Claude
Williams; the Hon. John Marshall, Sec. of Public Safety; and Lt.
Col. Tom Perkins turn the first shovels of earth for the expansion
of the MATES facility at Ft. Pickett. (Photo courtesy
of the Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)
- Dignitaries and guests witnessed the Dec. 9 groundbreaking
ceremony held at Ft. Pickett for the expansion of the Maneuver Area
Training Equipment Site (MATES) maintenance facility. The Honorable
John Marshall, Secretary of Public Safety; Maj. Gen. Claude Williams,
the Adjutant General; Mr. Cord Sterling and Mr. Luchen Niemeier of Sen.
John Warner's office; and Lt. Col Tom Perkins, Superintendent of MATES
turned the first shovels of dirt for the project. The $18.5 mil
construction project will increase the size of the MATES to over 153,000
square feet and eliminate the need for World War II vintage facilities
where much of the maintenance on equipment supported by MATES currently
Established as the Annual Training Equipment Pool in 1961, the concept
was for National Guard units using Pickett as a training site to locate
some of their larger equipment at the installation rather than shipping
the equipment from home station whenever training took place. The
mission of the Annual Training Equipment Pool was to store and maintain
equipment such as tanks, howitzers, and other armored vehicles that
visiting units could use rather than incurring the high cost of shipping
their equipment between home station and Pickett.
When it was established in 1961 the Annual Training Equipment Pool had
31 full time employees and maintained approximately 100 armored vehicles
including M48A1 tanks, M1059 carriers, and M84 mortar carriers and support
equipment. The equipment supported in 1961 was much smaller and
less complex than the equipment currently supported by MATES. Today
over 100 highly-skilled MATES employees maintain over 600 items including
70 Abrams tanks, 59 self-propelled howitzers, over 160 armored carriers
and 85 command carriers as well as related support equipment from over
80 Army National Guard units in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
In 1961 the Annual Training Equipment Pool was housed in old warehouses
and two locomotive repair shops that were built in 1942. The facilities
were adequate for the mission at that time. But the supported
equipment grew in size, number, and complexity. A MATES construction
project was completed in 1986. But even with that construction
the maintenance facilities did not meet the demands of the mission.
Today approximately 50% of the MATES workforce works out of the
original Annual Training Equipment Pool facility which is well over
60 years old.
The expansion and modernization of MATES will provide a state of the
art facility designed to support the modern equipment that is maintained
there. The facility will be fully compliant with safety and environmental
laws and regulations. This will ensure that MATES employees can
accomplish their maintenance support mission in a safe and environmentally
This expansion will also ensure that Ft. Pickett continues to be a key
military training site for the mid-Atlantic area. The enhancement
of these facilities will allow MATES to continue to deliver professional
support to the soldiers that train at Ft. Pickett as well as provide
maintenance facilities for modern equipment that will enter the Army's
inventory in the future. Col. Glenn Walker, who traveled from
National Guard Bureau to participate in the groundbreaking, said the
objective was to make Ft. Pickett a "training center of choice"
for the units on the east coast including Army National Guard enhanced
brigades located in the Carolinas and the Stryker Brigade that is projected
to be a part of the Pennsylvania's 28th Division.
Although the name has changed over the years from Annual Training Equipment
Pool to Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site or MATES, the mission
has remained essentially the same. To provide professional support
to the soldiers training on Ft. Pickett's 42,000 acres of maneuver area
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